The long-awaited Grand Egyptian Museum will be fully open by next May at the latest, the country’s tourism minister has pledged, but warned of price rises generally as the country improves facilities.
Ahmed Issa, Egypt’s minister of tourism and antiquities, said a soft opening of some parts would happen “probably later this year, maybe January”, with 200 items a day currently being installed. The official opening would be “between February and May” he said.
He said the museum had galleries “the length of three football pitches and could cope with 20,000 visitors a day. “We don’t get a fraction of that across the museums in Egypt.” The new Sphinx Airport, to the west of Cairo, is now open and ready to receive the expected increase in flights, he said, with easyJet and Wizz Air already operating there.
Issa said entry costs to the museum would be around $30, adding “The London Eye is £48.”
He signalled price increases across the country’s attractions. “In real terms the price of attractions in Egypt are below 2010. I am committed to getting prices back, adjusted for inflation, to 2010 levels. There is probably going to be another cycle of price increases in the next 12 months. We are committed to improving quality of services and we are going to charge for that.”
Issa said the country would receive 15 million tourists this year despite the situation in neighbouring Gaza. He added 2023 bookings were 32% above 2022 and were above 2019.
“It is a fraction of what we see is the demand for Egyptian product.” This future demand, he said, meant the industry had “to up its game”.
A new visitor centre at Cairo’s Pyramids will open later this year, with greener transport taking tourists to the site, while there are plans for high speed rail lines linking the Red Sea resorts and Alexandria with the capital.
Incentives would be given to hoteliers to expand, he said. “Today it is very difficult to get a room in Cairo, Luxor and Aswan. The number of Nile cruise rooms is up 40% over 15 months and still there are none available.” Her promised subsidised interest payments and tax incentives for developers.
Issa admitted bookings had been hit since the situation in Gaza began. “After October 7 we saw people delay their booking decision for maybe a couple of weeks, but we’ve seen a return to normal booking patterns. We’ve seen a decline in the non-beach product but that’s only 6% of our total tourism.”
He pledged more incentives to airlines and more fam trips. “I don’t want to see an A330 reduced to an A320, we are here to support you. “Maybe you will have lower load factors, but I am sure come mid-December the flights will be full again.”